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Veterans Employment Fair to be held Feb. 19

By Staff | Feb 7, 2011

A Veterans Employment Fair will be held in Fort Myers Saturday, Feb. 19, with multiple companies who are seeking employees, along with free resume classes and information on how to claim veteran benefits and improve credit scores.
Don Anderson, local veterans employment representative, said since he began working with veterans at the end of December he has had at least two or three veterans stop by a week “saying they had no idea jobs were out there.”
“They don’t realize there is a huge network” for them to utilize, he said. “We have a support network that is nationwide.”
He explained that California is the number one state which has the most veterans; Texas and Florida rank number two with the largest population of veterans.
There are currently 1.7 million veterans who live in Florida, said Terrance Cerullo, community outreach coordinator, but only 650,000 are accounted for.
For the young veterans, who are 18-24 years old, that are coming out of the tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Anderson said, their unemployment rate is three points higher than the normal rate.
“Veterans are typically quiet and that is the problem,” he said, explaining why there are so many veterans out of work. “When you take them out of the service, you take them out of their element.”
Cerullo said they are holding their first “focus veterans job fair” in Lee County on Feb. 19, so veterans can be a part of the community and economy.
“If we got one job for one veteran, we are pleased,” he said about the job fair.
Cerullo said hiring a veteran is a win-win for the community because they have a tremendous amount of discipline after leaving the military.
Although they have already attracted quite a few companies to participate in the job fair for free, Cerullo said they are still seeking larger companies and “mom and pa” shops to take part in the fair as well. He said there is no fee for businesses to set up a table at the fair to seek employees.
The job fair will also provide educational classes for veterans throughout the afternoon.
Southwest Florida Works Communic-ations Representative Barbara Hartman will provide information for “Is your resume AWOL?” at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
She explained that www.Employ-Florida.com, a secure state website, is a great place for veterans to post their resume to find jobs because there is a resume builder on the website that formats and saves it for when they want to apply for a job.
“If someone applies for the job, the resume goes with it,” Hartman said.
She said the whole focus of the fair is to “get people back to work in Southwest Florida.”
Florida Department of Veterans Affairs will provide a class at 11 a.m. to address veterans benefits. Another class will be offered at noon by the Home Ownership Resource Center of Fort Myers to focus on family budgeting and credit score improvement.
Cerullo said he encourages veterans to come forward and share how much time they were in the service, to ensure that they are not missing out on the benefits that are owed to them. He explained that $22 billion went unused in benefits last year for veterans.
American Red Cross Lee County Chapter Armed Forces Coordinator Jeremy Gentile said last year he had 100 financial cases for veterans, 75 of which were actively looking for employment. He explained that the majority of the time veterans come to him for financial support at the last minute.
Gentile said veterans are taught to make something out of nothing and never ask for help, which is why they come see him when their electric is being shut off instead of prior to that.
“Come see us prior to your electric being shut off,” he said. “Don’t wait until the last second to come see us.”